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Staggering Statistics

Every so often a news story linked to a research study comes out with health care statistics that blow my mind.  I read a lot of research so when that happens, it's pretty rare.

Kaiser Health News released this story about "super utilizers" in the US healthcare system.  A "super utilizer" is an economic term for a patient who is constantly using healthcare services.  This happens because they do not have good care coordination, lack health insurance, and often have multiple chronic disease conditions that are costly to treat.  Key quote from the article:

"These patients are among the 1 percent whose ranks no one wants to join: the costly cohort battling multiple chronic illnesses who consumed 21 percent of the nearly $1.3 trillion Americans spent on health care in 2010, at a cost of nearly $88,000 per person. Five percent of patients accounted for 50 percent of all health-care expenditures. By contrast, the bottom 50 percent of patients accounted for just 2.8 percent of spending that year, according to a recent report by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality."

Nurses with care coordination skills that help keep these patients out of the hospital and emergency room are critical for reducing costs.  Experienced nurses (3+ years) are perfect for these roles because of their system knowledge and patient interaction skills.

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